Living on a sailboat has its challenges but it's a lifestyle that is well rewarding if your intentions are to sail with frequency. The purpose for living on a sailboat should not be for monetary reasons (saving) but rather for the freedomist lifestyle and for the love of sailing.
Cost of Living
Always know, no matter what kind of sailboat you choose to live on, that parts will break, and you'll need to set aside money each month for repairs. The following is a list of costs that you'll need to take into consideration before deciding to live on a sailboat:
- Size of your sailboat - Larger sailboats cost more to maintain and more at the marina. Marinas charge by the foot. Therefore, if your sailboat is 30 feet and a marina charges $2 dollars a foot per night, you'd be looking at $60 dollars a night to live.
- Location - How you plan to sail and spend your nights will have a great impact on your wallet. Most sailors anchor at night and use their dinghy to go to shore. Most anchorages have a "dinghy dock" that allow sailors to tie up their dinghy free of charge. Sailing into a different marina every night will surely cost a pretty penny.
How to Make Money
In the past 10 years with the popularity of YouTube and personal blogs, the chances of successfully making money while sailing is far greater. Sailing is still an old man's game. The majority of people who own sailboats are wealthy men and couples between the ages of 55-65. However, those making money while living on sailboats are those of younger people.
Before you can start to make money on a sailboat, you must first save enough money to buy a sailboat and then have further savings to initially start living on one. Smaller sailboats cost less and are easier to maintain. If you have a tight budget and if you are new to sailing, a smaller sailboat is what you will want.
1. Learn a Digital Skill
If you are wanting to make money while living on a sailboat, it better be something that you can do remotely. And to work remotely, you must have a combination of a computer, smartphone (with a good camera), and an internet connection. It truly is unbelievable how much information there is online when it comes to learning, especially when learning a digital skill. If you are a person who likes to be self-taught, you are on the right path. If you are seeking to learn about creating a blog; learning basic web development (with Wordpress) is a highly valuable skill. Or say you want to start making videos for a YouTube channel; learning how to use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit videos is also another great skill that will get you on your way.
If being a creator isn't your thing, learning a digital skill can still help you on your way to freedom of the seas. Say you become very good at web design. You can then try your hand at becoming a freelancer by offering your services for sale, which can all be done with a simple internet connection.
The following is a list of resources to learning digital skills:
- Udemy.com - The largest website that offers in-depth online tutorials (many of which are digital skills) by people who have mastered their subject. All courses are offered with reviews.
- Adobe Premiere Pro Tutorials - Not only is Adobe Premiere Pro the best video editing software out there, but they also offer free tutorials on how to use their software. If it makes you feel any better, anyone who knows how to use this software is most likely self-taught. So you can do it too.
- Learn Wordpress on YouTube! - There are so many great resources on YouTube to learn just about any subject. If you are looking to learn how to use Wordpress, which is very user friendly to those who know nothing about coding or web development, then you'll want to check it out.
- Learn Enough - For a small price, it's a great resource if you want to dive deeper into learning web development.
Remember, this is just a small list of the thousands of possibilities out there. And you do not need a college degree in order to live your dream. All it takes is learning and mastering a few skills which will then allow you to sail while making money and be free at last! As I write this to you now, I myself dropped out of college after my first semester and self-taught my way to earning a living online. If I can do it, so can you!
2. Earn Income
Okay, so now you have learned a few skills. But how exactly will I earn income from the skills plus the applied hard work? You need to find users. Users are also called an audience. Creating engaging content or services will attract users which as a result, will make you money. Before you can attract users, you must first find or create a platform. A platform could be a website of your own or using a preexisting platform like YouTube.com or Fiverr.com
Ever since Google created the Adsense program, content creators on YouTube and website owners have been able to monetize their audience with ease. You do not need to sell and ship products to make money. Adsense allows you to place ads (automatically) on your website and on YouTube videos.
Popular platforms or ways to find an audience:
- A website hosted with GoDaddy installed with Wordpress
- A YouTube channel + Patreon - There are loads of sailors who make a living by vlogging about their sailing adventures.
- Offering services on freelance websites such as Fiverr.com, Freelancer.com or Upwork.com
- Kindle Direct Publishing Account - Once you get some experience under you, share it with the world via books by creating a KDP account on Amazon.
Living on a Sailboat Full Time
Living on a sailboat full time requires a boat large enough in order to stand up straight while inside without hitting your head on the ceiling. Typically, sailboats that have a length of 27 feet or greater will have enough headroom to stand up comfortably. Depending on your preference for simplicity, your sailboat may have just enough to get by - or have all the bells and whistles.
When living on a sailboat full time, you'll want the basics which include the following:
- Gas stove
- Refrigeration / freezer
- Air conditioning (if living in tropical or hot climate)
- Heating (if living in temperatures that get lower than 50 degrees)
Of course, if you are serious sailor with the intentions of sailing to far out destinations, you'll want a lot more on your sailboat when it comes to equipment and gear. Living full time at sea is a lot different than living full-time at a marina. At sea, you'll need much more planning and preparation for living. If in a marina, you'll want to be in a marina that has laundry and shower facilities.
Living with a Dog
Just as humans must adjust to living on a boat, so do dogs. Dogs are used to doing their potty outside where bushes and grass are plenty. On the ocean, it's just the boat and the water for options. Since dogs can't go to the bathroom while swimming in the ocean, there is only one other place for them to do their business - and that's on the boat. As for most sailors, keeping their boat clean and sanitary is a top priority. Potty training your dog, whether big or small, is important. If the dog cannot be properly potty trained after numerous attempts, the correct decision is to not bring the dog on board if going on a long trip.
Getting your dog to do number 1 and 2 is just a matter of dedicating a space on deck that reflects their natural environment. Most sailors have found that by using the combination of a boot tray and a section of carpet or Astroturf and dedicating it to a place on deck is the best option for both the dog and the boat's cleanliness.
Astroturf is easy to wash overboard and by placing it in a boot tray, the dog's urine will be trapped under the Astroturf, mitigating any spillage outside the designated area. You'll want to clean the tray often. If you don't, the dog's urine will take flight and spray passengers in the cockpit (assuming that the tray is located in the deck's bow). In order to initially get your dog to use the tray, you'll need to add a bit of urine to the Astroturf to get your dog to engage.
At Sea vs in a Marina
As previously stated, living at sea is a completely different ballgame than living at or within a marina. Most sailors would agree that living at sea is more fun and it's what most of us dream to be doing when living on a sailboat. However, depending on your sailboat's location, seasons play a big role in our ability to sail safely. So, for most of us, spending some time at a marina is inevitable.
Living at sea is the type of living where you are on the move, sailing from one destination to another. This type of sailboat living requires the boat to be in tip top shape. Always having a plan, being able to provision (restock food and necessities), and stay safe are the most important aspects to sailing at sea.
In a marina, a sailboat must have two things: (1) insurance and (2) the ability to float. If you just enjoy the lifestyle of living in a marina and on a boat, there isn't much else you really need to do or plan. If you sail enough, you'll meet these people. Most often, these people who live and veg in marinas are in a tight spot (monetarily).